Israel and Hamas at war, day 118 | Washington imposes sanctions against Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank

Efforts are intensifying for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli fighting and raids continued on Thursday, worsening the already dire humanitarian situation.




On Thursday, US President Joe Biden adopted an unprecedented measure, aimed at sanctioning Israeli settlers accused of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where violence has increased on the sidelines of the war in Gaza to reach according to him “intolerable levels”.

According to Washington, the sanctions target people accused of “acts of terrorism” or who “undermine peace, stability and security” in the territory.

In Gaza, witnesses reported Israeli strikes near the Nasser hospital in Khan Younes (south), where, according to Israel, leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement are hiding.

In this partly destroyed city, more than 30,000 displaced people sheltered in schools around the Nasser hospital lack food, water, medicine and infant formula, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

PHOTO MOHAMMED SALEM, REUTERS

A refugee camp in Rafah, 1er February 2024

Hamas leader Ismaïl Haniyeh, who lives in exile in Qatar, is expected in Egypt on Thursday or Friday to discuss a new cessation of fighting, almost four months after the start of the war triggered by the bloody attack on his movement against Israel on October 7.

The talks are expected to focus on a proposal emerging from a recent meeting in Paris between CIA chief William Burns and Egyptian, Israeli and Qatari officials.

“Proposal in three phases”

According to a Hamas source, this is a three-phase proposal, the first of which provides for a six-week truce during which Israel will have to release between 200 and 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages held in Gaza, and 200 to 300 aid trucks will be able to enter the Palestinian territory every day.

Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip on the day of the Hamas attack, around a hundred of whom were released at the end of November during a first truce, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. According to Israeli authorities, 132 hostages remain held in Gaza. Among them, 27 were declared dead by the army.

To support efforts for a second truce, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, will return “in the coming days” to the Middle East.

At this stage, Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union in particular, is demanding a total ceasefire before any agreement.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks of a possible truce but affirms that he will only end the offensive once Hamas is eliminated, the hostages are released, and after having received guarantees on Israel’s future security. .

“We are working to obtain another agreement for the release of our hostages, but not at any price,” Mr. Netanyahu said, under pressure both from the families of hostages for a release and from members of his government , hostile to an agreement which would be too generous, according to them, for the Palestinians.

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, which left around 1,163 people dead, mostly civilians, according to a new AFP count based on figures Israeli officials.

In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched a military offensive which left 27,019 dead, the vast majority civilians, according to the Palestinian movement’s Ministry of Health.

Unrwa proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize

In the devastated Palestinian territory which has become “uninhabitable”, according to the UN, the population is “starving” and “being pushed to the brink”, according to the World Health Organization.

PHOTO IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA, REUTERS

Rafah, the 1er February 2024

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which said on Thursday it feared having to cease its activities “by the end of February”, was however nominated by a Norwegian elected official for the Nobel Peace Prize, “for his long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region.”

Thirteen donor countries suspended their contributions to this agency after accusations by Israel against 12 of its employees suspected of involvement in the October 7 attack. Unrwa announced that it had dismissed most of the employees concerned.

In the Nasser hospital, which lacks everything, overwhelmed doctors try to cope with the influx of wounded.

“There are no more than five or six doctors in the emergency room. Each of us has to deal with ten cases at the same time. The injured who arrive die before we can take care of them,” a doctor, Mahmoud Raja Abou Chamala, told AFP.

The war has forced 1.7 million Gaza residents, according to the UN, out of a total of 2.4 million, to flee their homes.

As the fighting spread, more than 1.3 million displaced people, according to the UN, are now crowded into Rafah, trapped against the closed border with Egypt.

PHOTO MAHMUD HAMS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Palestinians flee Khan Younes, January 30, 2024.

Palestinians arrested by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, and currently being treated in a hospital in Rafah after being released on Thursday, reported to AFP that they had been victims of violence and deprivation in detention.

Questioned by AFP about these allegations, the Israeli army declared that it had arrested “individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activities” and assured that they had been treated “in accordance with international law”.

Outside Gaza, the conflict still risks igniting the region. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who since mid-November have been attacking international shipping in “solidarity” with the Palestinians, claimed responsibility for an attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Aden overnight.

Shortly after, Washington announced that it had destroyed ten attack drones and a Houthi command post in Yemen.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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